AT&T, Sprint Announce New Plans To Convince You They're The Best

Sprint and AT&T have announced dueling phone plan changes geared toward making you feel you as if you can call anyone, anywhere, anytime and not pay an extra cent.

Sprint's plan is moving past its "calling circles" and is called the Any Mobile, Anytime plan. Basically, it's unlimited calling between mobile phones, no matter the service provider, within the United States. The marketing tag is that users can "cut the cord and save money," implying this is how and why consumers should finally get rid of their landlines. No small point, seeing as Sprint used to hold a relatively major portion of the landline long distance market. While it still offers residential long distance service, its share of the mobile market is its main focus these days. Plus, the company has offered long-distance via the Internet.

The Any Mobile, Anytime plan is part of the Sprint Everything Data plans, which start at $69.99 (for 450 minutes of calling time - want 900 minutes? That'll cost you another $20.). They have unlimited text, picture and video messaging, as well as unlimited data services, which include email/Internet service, Sprint TV, streaming music and exclusive apps such as NFL Mobile Live and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile. There are rates, too, for families. A family of four would pay the equivalent of $42.50 per person, after adding in the extra two phones, for 1,500 minutes.

And just to keep track of such things, Sprint's works on the Palm Pre and the soon-to-come HTC Hero, as well as the Blackberry Tour.

Not to be outdone, AT&T launched its "A-List with Rollover," which gives you the ability to choose five numbers in the U.S. you can call and not use up any of your minutes, whether or not they're on AT&T. The "Rollover" part is the reminder that any minutes you don't use, you don't lose, so you can sort of double-dip, the company said. Anyone with an individual Nation plan costing $59.99 or more can use this plan.

Families with AT&T plans of $89.99 or more can designate 10 numbers domestically for their VIPs.

You have to create your A-List on AT&T's web site. Fortunately, the numbers can be changed online whenever you want, so if you break up with your significant other, you can take him or her off the list and put on your new sweetie. Or put your best bud back on the list.

AT&T also announced the rollout of its High Speed Packet Access 7.2 technology, which is supposed to "provide a considerable speed boost" to the company's 3G mobile broadband network.

Basically, the HSPA will add capacity to support what is a now sometimes overloaded mobile data network and supposedly will meet the demands of a future 4G network. Six cities will be the beneficiaries of the HSPA for starters: Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami. Initial service should be available there by year's end. By the end of next year, 25 of the nation's largest 30 markets will have the service, and 90 percent of AT&T's network will have it by the end of 2011.

Theoretically, the upgraded network will have peak speeds of 7.2Mbps, but AT&T says customers typically will experience slower speeds, depending in part on location, device used and network traffic at that time.

AT&T also will have six smartphones and two LaptopConnect cards compatible with the new technology by the end of this year.

The HSPA rollout will be accompanied by an additional "backhaul" to the wireless network, beefing up the network's connections and backbone, the company said. That backhaul will support not only HSPA but also 4G LTE, which is scheduled for trials in 2010 and release in 2011.
Tags:  Mobile, ATT, Sprint, cell